Timeline: Blackistone Island Lighthouse

(Located on the southern tip of St. Clement’s Island, St. Mary’s County, MD, on the mouth of the St. Marys’ River on the Potomac River. AKA Blakistone Island – revised 8/16/13)
1851 Two story brick dwelling with integral tower built on Blackistone Island by John Donahoo. 2nd last lighthouse built by Donahoo.
1857 Tower fitted with Fresnel lens.
1859 Jerome McWilliams, son of the island’s owner appointed head keeper.
1864 Confederate troops destroy lens and lantern, but spare lighthouse building on behest of keeper McWilliams. Repairs made quickly and lighthouse back in service.
1875 Josephine McWilliams Freeman named head keeper.
1911 Keeper Freeman retires, having served as lightkeeper for 37 years. One of only 49 women to serve as a keeper in U.S. history.
1932 Lighthouse decommissioned. U.S. Navy purchases lighthouse site for ballistic testing
1934 40-foot cross erected to commemorate 1634 landing of MD colonists.
1956 Fire of mysterious origin rages across island and destroys lighthouse, leaving a burned, roofless shell. Navy demolishes remains.
1961 After nearly 300 years, island returns to its original name of St. Clement’s Island and is leased to the state of Maryland.
2007 St. Clement’s Hundred launches drive to build replica lighthouse, 150 yards from original site.
2008 Replica lighthouse completed and opened to the public.
Source: Maryland Lighthouse of the Chesapeake Bay by F. Ross Holland, St. Clement’s Island Museum and Lydia Wood, Historic Site Manager, Museum Division.

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